EEP European Environmental Press

Climate change: deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions

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Source: EEP European Environmental Press

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called on developed and advanced developing countries to commit to substantially reducing their greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades following today's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on mitigating global warming. The consensus report from IPCC's working group III (WG III) confirms the EU's analysis that global emissions must start to fall within the next 15 years and then be cut to around half of 1990 levels by 2050 if the world is to have a fair chance of preventing irreversible and possibly catastrophic global changes. The report projects that unless urgent action is taken global emissions in 2030 will be 25-90% higher than today, making it all but certain that global warming will reach dangerous levels. 'This important IPCC report confirms that significant global reductions in greenhouse gases are essential and urgent,' Commissioner Dimas said. 'It recognises that the technologies and policies to achieve these cuts exist today, so there is no excuse for waiting. Its conclusions fully support the EU's view that developed countries must reduce emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, and global emissions must be halved by 2050, if we are to have a good chance of limiting global warming to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial level. It is now time for the rest of the international community to follow our lead and commit to ambitious reduction targets. Negotiations on a new global climate change agreement must be launched at the next UN ministerial conference in December.' The EU has led global action to limit and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases since the early 1990s. More than 30 policies and measures - including the groundbreaking EU Emissions Trading Scheme - have been implemented at EU level through the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), set up by the European Commission in 2000. The EU's leadership on climate change has been further strengthened by the integrated climate and energy package that was presented by the Commission in January and fully endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the March European Council. This landmark package sets out a range of cost-effective measures to reduce emissions, improve energy security and increase competitiveness, as well as the EU's proposals for a new global agreement intended to limit global warming to no more than 2°C above the pre-industrial level.
 
 There is strong scientific evidence that a temperature rise beyond this threshold would greatly increase the risk of dangerous climate change. The WG III report, Climate Change 2007: Mitigation of Climate Change, assesses the latest scientific knowledge on the mitigation of climate change and constitutes the final part of the IPCC's forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report. The report's main findings are the following: without action global greenhouse gas emissions will be 25% to 90% above current levels by 2030, with the highest growth levels in the transport sector. Two-thirds or more of the global emissions growth will come from developing countries, but per capita emissions in 2030 will still be substantially higher in developed countries than in developing nations. Limiting average global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial level will require by 2050 a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 50% of current levels. Such low emissions scenarios can be achieved at a cost of less than 3% of global GDP by 2030, a fraction of the overall growth over this period. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will cut air pollution, and therefore also its associated health costs, improve energy security and increase employment. Near-term health benefits from reduced air pollution can offset a substantial part of the cost of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The technologies and potential to reduce emissions exists in all main emitting sectors, i.e. energy supply, transport, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry and waste, in both developed and developing countries. Long term targets for stabilising the global temperature can be achieved using a portfolio of existing commercially available technologies as well as technologies in the pipeline. What are needed are sufficient incentives to develop and deploy them. Establishing a price for carbon creates such incentive and can be achieved through taxes, charges and tradable permit systems. (EC/2007-05-04)

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